2023 - The Year of The Youth
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In Commonwealth member countries, 2023 is the Year of Youth. At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022, leaders declared 2023 as a year dedicated to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development. Leaders of the 56 Commonwealth countries have demonstrated their commitment to tackling the endemic challenges facing children and young people. Their landmark declaration at the end of the 2-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) came on the heels of the devastating global pandemic that released a tsunami of health, education, economic, employment and safe-guarding challenges, and aimed to get youth development on track for global-agreed development goals deadlines.
Their 22-page communique included commitments which will specifically benefit young people such as the landmark Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform. Among ten key commitments in the bold, standalone declaration, Heads pledged to: make health systems strong enough to withstand the shocks of future pandemics - particularly with a specific focus on protecting children; boost child protection and safeguarding resources and tackle the root issues that lead to children needing to be put into care and protection; collaborate with development agencies to boost aid and development assistance for children and young people; and support data collection so that interventions are targeted, and evidence-based.
Other key commitments at the end of their meeting included: To implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and tailoring support to those with disabilities to address the unique challenges of Covid-19. To prioritise the education reforms agreed at the 21st Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, which focused on resilience and sustainability; learning technologies; leadership in education; transitions within and outside the education system; addressing disparities; and financing of education. Critically, they are committed to offering 12 years of quality and inclusive education and ensuring children can catch up on the learning they lost during the pandemic.
The Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth development work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which has been supporting member countries for 50 years. The Commonwealth sees young people aged 15 to 29 as assets to a country’s development who should be empowered to realise their potential. Young people have a proven capability to lead change, and are a vital and valuable investment for now and the future.
In the feature picture, Malawi High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Thomas Bisika, interacts with Pierre- Emeric Aubamayeng, a striker for Premier League side Chelsea Football Club.